The Shacklewell Arms – 22nd June

The newly named Preoccupations take to the stage at The Shacklewell Arms without much fanfare. It is, perhaps, an indication at the relief they’re feeling at finally being able to get on with playing some tunes after all the drama surrounding their recent name change.

New single ‘Anxiety’ picks up where the band left of on their debut LP. The brooding stomp of their earlier work is still there, but the twinkling synthesiser sheds some light on Matt Flegel’s ominous lyrics. There are more experiments with synths on Degraded before the band stride into a full-throttle version of ‘Continental Shelf’. Its ominous lyrics (“Don’t want to face the world, it’s suffocating) and rolling rhythms are reminiscent Joy Division, while the skittish, angular guitar intro of ‘Silhouettes’ recalls some of modern indie music’s finest moments.

‘March of Progress’ provides the high point of the evening as Mike Wallace sets the pace with some incredible patterns and immense power behind the drum kit. It’s a tense, almost claustrophobic introduction that culminates in a shimmering, sparkling guitar section, quite unlike anything i’ve ever heard before.

Finishing with near the 20 minute epic ‘Death’, a racket of post-punk drums, soaring, indie melodies and crunching guitar, the band slink off stage as inconspicuously as they arrived on it an hour earlier.

Preoccupations tonight are back where they belong. And that is a relief for all of us.

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